Amy, the chief of staff-turned-campaign manager for newly minted president Selina Meyer, was not trying to be a buzzkill when she noted to her celebrating limo-mates, in the opening moments of Sunday’s season finale of Veep, “I don’t mean to piss on your bliss, but I’m going to need you back in New Hampshire very, very soon.” She was merely doing her job as the shepherd of what had abruptly switched, in the season’s penultimate episode, “Crate,” from Selina’s election campaign to Selina’s re-election campaign. The veep had ascended, truly despite the efforts of her and her team, to the presidency, and Amy wisely didn’t want them to lose sight of their primary goal: To actually be elected into that office.
Naturally, they lost sight. But who could blame them, what with the congratulatory messages from Beyoncé and Ashton Kutcher (even if it did come from his assistant)?
If the world of Veep were a forgiving world, one in which the concept of karmic justice does not exist, then “Crate” would have been a perfect season finale. It had all the hallmarks of a feel-good denouement: Just as escalating problems and tension threatened to derail Selina’s campaign, a sudden development — the resignation of the president so he could care for his troubled wife — delivered to Selina the very thing she and her team were pursuing. History’s happiest game of telephone ensued, Selina and Gary got silly in the bathroom, and the episode ended tied neatly in a bow. Selina & Co. could ride off into the Beltway sunset victorious, with campaign concerns and the New Hampshire primary as disregarded as a pair of Syrian refugees.
But this is the type of political team that botches its first attempt at the presidential oath, and then uses a forced redo as an opportunity for a press stunt, and so of course the season couldn’t end on episode 9’s high note. It might be a fine day in the District when episode 10 begins, but mistakes start surfacing even before Selina can admonish her team, “Any f–k-up is not just a f–k-up, it’s my legacy,” as though it’ll make any difference. The stakes are higher now, the attention more focused, and this lot doesn’t hold up well under even the most casual of scrutiny.
…The Mike McLintock Handsome Devil Press Conference Comedy Tour gets abruptly canceled. Kent fires the wrong person, and then moves into a White House office near an unamused Sue. Gary’s special-occasion high heels, the crown jewel of his seemingly bottomless bag of holding, provide an undesirable soundtrack to Selina’s presidential debut. Ben gets roped back in as White House chief of staff. Dan gets busted for spreading lies about Danny Chung. Jonah, Dan’s fall guy, turns his back on the internet and comes away with just an inconsequential White House job to show for it. Even poor Richard — campaign volunteer, self-proclaimed Batman, breakout star of season 3 — has to endure the vitriol of unhappy cold-call recipients.
And, of course, Selina, now the sitting president, finishes third in the New Hampshire primary — hardly a good look for her campaign manager, Amy, who was right to want her boss back in New Hampshire. If Selina’s re-election bid fails, then “a Snapchat presidency” will indeed be an apt way to describe her brief tenure, but she knows all too well that what she does while in office isn’t going to go away. (Not that Snapchat photos do, either.) Her blunders will be her legacy, immortalizing her time as president just as Jonah will forever be preserved in the spellbinding portrait hanging on the wall of his mom’s house. (If anyone has a purchase link for a life-sized copy of that picture, or the original itself, please share it in the comments.)
The episode, and season, conclude with no joy and little meaningful resolution, which is exactly how Veep, a show that’s at its best when its characters’ situations are at their most dire, should end. Selina’s struggling in the primaries. The staff’s White House honeymoons are over. Iran is mad. Any trace of the bliss that had Amy so worried is gone, washed away by 25 minutes of steady, thrilling micturition. On the heels of episode 9’s rosiness, that’s a great relief.